Year Three in the Rearview: Blogiversary/Runniversary

It’s hard to believe that just over 3 years ago I embarked on my half marathon/full marathon journey and started this blog to document the process. Reflecting on the past year, so much has happened, and I finally feel ready to discuss some of it as it relates to running.


When I started running regularly, I began to notice a lot of changes. I felt more focused, and I felt a sense of peace. After a run, I would feel refreshed, less stressed, like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, I realize how much God brought running into my life at a crucial time and to help heal some of my brokenness.

About a year and a half ago, after the big move to Austin, I started struggling with a lot of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about feeling anxious in normal situations that call for nervousness.

I fretted and panicked over every little thing – sending emails, keeping up with my workouts, making new friends, forgetting to take the trash out, losing my keys, etc. I would have sudden anxiety attacks, followed by massive feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and depression. I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning every single day, longing for each day to be over before it began. It was constant. It was something I experienced before, but something running largely alleviated during the calmer periods of my life the last couple of years.

Chris and I pre-PR at the Cap 10K this year.

Being in a new city, away from much of my support system, and being in a work environment that just did not work for me at all, the anxiety led into depression. I tried to work through it and keep on keepin’ on, but it wasn’t something that running could alleviate any more. It became impossible to rely solely on running as my stress reliever and it was clear that I needed some help. I came to a breaking point (I won’t elaborate here because I really don’t want to glamorize how I was feeling). I couldn’t out run the problem anymore, or sweep it under the rug like I’d been doing for 16 years.

Though all of that was extremely tough, the good news is that over the past year I began to intentionally take care of my mental health. In addition to having an incredibly supportive husband who encouraged me to get the help I needed, I owe that in large part to the practice of running. I would not have realized how much I needed help if running hadn’t made such a difference in my life.

It’s true that God has used running in my life, but I could not have foreseen what a large role it would play in this particular aspect of my life.

So why tell you all of this?

Transparency. So often bloggers, writers, etc. discuss struggles during a pregnancy or weight loss, but depression and mental health are sometimes considered taboo. However, it’s still health-related, and, therefore, important.

I feel a sense of duty to share what’s been going on, because so many people are afraid to. That’s always been the motivation of my blog – to reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned, so that others can know they’re not alone, learn more about themselves, and to build community.

There’s still a perception that anxiety can be a handicap or disability, which is wrong, but it exists. I got to my breaking point and it’s hard to think about how awful that was – but I’m also kind of inspired thinking about where I was just a little over a year ago and where I am today.  Not only did I start looking for a new job, but I started the journey to find help – like not just seeing a counselor a few times, but consistent help from a therapist and psychiatrist. It took me far too long to do all of that because I feared the stigma. And I want to be a part of breaking down that stigma.

Finishing my second marathon – another tough experience, but totally worth it to prove to myself that I could do it again. 

The other reason is to celebrate. It’s taken me a month and a half to get the courage to post this, but I’ve overcome a lot in the past year and I want to spread the message that there is hope. Wherever you’re at, you are loved, your life matters, and you are NOT alone. If you need help, or need to take medication, there is nothing wrong with that. As Jamie Tworkowski implied, as long as you have breath in your lungs, your life matters (this also seems more timely than ever with the tragic death of Chester Bennington).

Mental health is as important as physical health because both contribute to your overall health.

With all of that off my chest, what’s next?

I’m not sure! I’ve got a couple of half marathons I’m looking forward to this fall. My plan is to continue to focus on getting faster with my half marathon time before I think about doing another full marathon. It keeps me focused on something (and my doctor says that running is important to my treatment – funny how it really is like medication in some ways!).

I’ve also got some fun lifestyle content planned! I always say that, but I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming on a bunch of different posts for the rest of the summer and fall. If you like to travel, stay active and enjoy all that life has to offer (which is basically all people), then this is for you! I’m so excited to share this new content with you guys!

Thanks, as always, for reading along. Your support has meant the world to me and I look forward to sharing the next year of blogging with you guys!

On a serious note: if you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression or considering suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line (send a text to 741-741 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone will answer 24/7. 

They Pulled out All the Stops: BCS Marathon Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the BCS Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

When I attended school at Texas A&M (can I get an “a-whoop!?”), I had several friends slave away to run the BCS Marathon. I always thought it would be cool to run a half, but never, in a million years, did I see myself running a full.

Because I couldn’t even run three miles at the time.

Four years later, and I’m back to do just that. Funny how life works.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s cut to the chase. I’m here today to review the BCS Marathon in College Station, Texas.


Pre-Race

A turn of events caused us to be in Austin late Saturday before the race, so I actually wasn’t able to attend the expo. Head over to Live Slow Run Fast if you would like a better idea of what that was like.

I can provide more feedback on the pre-race morning experience. Being in College Station, parking is a non-issue. There are a variety of hotels close to the start line at Post Oak Mall, so I was able to sleep in until a glorious 5 a.m. alarm. We left our hotel around 6:15 and parked by about 6:25. It was just a short walk to the start line, where I met up with Jessica. I noticed there were plenty of porta potties as we made our way to the start line – there was hardly even a line!


The Gun Goes Off

Soon enough, it was time to run. Jessica and I ran together for the first 5 miles or so; it’s always a pleasure to get to run with a friend. We went our separate ways and it started to look like I just might be able to pull off a 5 hour marathon.

The route was scenic and ran all over the Bryan/College Station area. We ran through the historic neighborhoods, then moved on to downtown Bryan. Later on, we made our way out to the Tradition’s golf course, which offered more nature/scenic views. Finally, we ran back to campus as people started to hit the dreaded “wall.” It’s planned perfectly because student organizations come out to cheer people on and staff aid stations. And everyone wants to be near campus, so they are really excited!

I truly appreciated the pacers. At my first marathon, there were no pacers for the full marathon, which felt lonely toward the end. I’m sure it’s quite rare for a marathon so small (less than 1,000) to have pacers. The attention to detail really helped me stay motivated. The 5:15 pacer and I kept passing each other, and he was super cool. The marathon relay group also made the course feel a lot less empty, which was well-planned.

Aid stations were also fabulous. They all had water and Gatorade, as well as medical staff (with Vaseline for chafing). Every few aid stations, they offered food – Gu, orange slices, bananas, gummy candies, etc. The race was small enough that the stations weren’t crowded, either.

Personally, I didn’t hit the wall until about mile 21, because there were barely any hills. My race felt pretty great the whole way, but at mile 21, my leg started to cramp. I stayed the course, got some Tylenol and drank some Gatorade at the next [perfectly-timed] aid station, and was able to power through the rest of the race.

I had to make it up one last hill to the 26 mile marker, and then I sprinted back downhill to finish.


Finisher Party (and boy, was it time to part-ay)

The finish line crowd was also spirited, as was the announcer (who high-fived me). It felt like a much larger race. Immediately after crossing, I was able to find my husband and parents, who had come in from out of town. I received my beautiful medal, banged the PR gong (heck yeah, 20 minute personal record), and headed to the party.

The post-race party was filled with food and goodies. It was easy to find my finisher jacket, which was also pretty well-made. There were pizza rolls, beer, margaritas, breakfast tacos, the list goes on. It was just awesome. I also liked that there was a little bit of a walk back to the parking lot from Wolf Pen Creek, where the party was. It helped me to cool down, which I too often do not do.

Overall, I would recommend the BCS Marathon to anyone.

It’s almost as well done as the big ones, but with a small town heart. There is truly something for everyone. Plus, Aggies are very friendly, and that spirit proved true for this race.

However, due to the race occurring during the holiday season, I would personally appreciate a packet mailing option; yes, running a marathon is obviously a huge deal, but it’s the time of year where things come up. It would have been helpful to have a way to work that out.


Well, I did it, you guys! I ran my second marathon – the BCS Marathon. Did not know how I was going to make it at times, but I did. With a final time of 5:21:38, BCS was the fastest marathon I’ve run yet. It was also a great value for the price; marathons are expensive, but they pulled out all the stops, just like at a larger race.

Cheers to marathon PR’s in your old hometown.

Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

As most of you know, I’ve been training for the BCS Marathon, with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as a bit of a benchmark midway through. This past weekend (October 16) I finally made my way up to College Station for the race. Not only did I look forward to seeing how my former home has changed, but also to experience a city that I haven’t seen yet on the run. 

Pre-race

The race did a great job of communicating updates leading up to the race, through emails and social media. They also ran several giveaways with their sponsors on Facebook, which kept race goers engaged with the page. Actually, this is incredibly smart, because if timely messages need to be communicated, any page must have an active audience for Facebook to push out content.

img_4099In terms of the expo, it was held at the Nutrabolt headquarters. There were only 4 booths in total, including Nutrabolt’s area and the race packet pickup – not exactly what I’d call an expo. While signup and packet pickup were easy, the expo wasn’t anything to write home about. However, since there is no other way to pick up your packet for this race, it must be done!

Side note: we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It was clean, comfy and a 10 minute drive from the race. The staff were also friendly and accommodating.

Racing time!

The race starts at 7, but it’s a good idea to aim to be at the start line by 6:30, if you are meeting people, no later than 6:45 if you are riding solo. Parking and walking takes an extra 10ish minutes. You must pass through the underground tunnel leading to the start line before 6:45 to make it on time (it’s part of the race course).

Porta potty lines were as expected; there are plenty for the number of race participants, but there is always a line. Anyway, there were tons of announcements and of course the national anthem, the Aggie fight song (whoop!), and a prayer. Just get there early if you want to chat or use the bathroom. Unfortunately, I was running late… between all of the announcements, Erica at Another Half Please and I couldn’t snag much of a pre-race conversation, but we did catch up the first mile of the race and afterward. The race started, and we were off!

The first several miles of the course, we caught a view of the most beautiful sunrise as we ran through campus. That always makes the early mornings worthwhile. The course itself was fairly flat, with mild hills. For this Austinite, the course wasn’t particularly challenging.

The race field was not too big, and not too small (about 650 total for the half). There was no crowding on the course. The aid stations were consistently every 1.5 miles, and they were staffed with pleasant, friendly volunteers. I did not see any long lines for porta potties either; just 1 or 2 people total in line at a time, so they had an appropriate amount. They even placed Gu’s appropriately at around miles 4 and 10, as wells as oranges and bananas. This is a nice touch and an area where the race excelled. Any race I’ve attended that has fuel on the course puts it at mile 7 – kinda late to start fueling for a half. At the end of the course, where the path winds through a residential neighborhood, volunteers stood throughout to guide runners (also much appreciated)!

Finishing strong…

In terms of my time goal, I tried not to set one until I felt it out. Race morning was sunny and between 71 and 75 degrees. I did well before the sun was overhead. I tried to push myself in the last half to see if I could at least finish between 2:25-2:30. The heat got the better of me and I had to finish conservatively. I ultimately finished at 2:36:12. Not Austin 2016 at all, but I’m happy to have finished uninjured and enjoyed the experience overall. The finish line was also inside Kyle Field, which was really neat. I didn’t stay in there long though, because I was ready to get out of the sun and into the post race party. 

My face after my husband found me, drenched in sweat!

Post Race – Time to party!

One of my favorite parts of the Nutrabolt Half was the post race party. Karbach beer was on tap (4 different types). It would have been nice to have a cider choice available, especially to serve gluten-free folks. However, I sat down with a wheat beer, Weisse Versa, which was refreshing and appropriate, as my time in College Station was the peak of my beer drinking days. For runners, they also had pretzels and bratwurst, complementing the Oktoberfest theme, in addition to the other runner food staples of bananas, muffins, etc. There was only a line for beer, which also made it easy to enjoy the party!

This recap cannot be complete without a note on the wonderful swag we received. Before the race, we received a nice Nutrabolt bag (similar to lululemon shopping totes). Inside the bag were a couple of FitJoy bars, and a large beach towel. After the race, we received a super soft, triblend finisher’s shirt, a ceramic beer stein and a sweet medal. Even though none of these pieces were super technical, they are actually pieces that I will use outside of running, which is awesome. I prefer to get a few quality pieces of non-running swag than one tech shirt/jacket that is not made well, because I’ll just never use it! I’ve been wearing the t-shirt to sleep in all week, actually.

Overall, it was worth the trip to Aggieland; I will absolutely make the trip back if given the opportunity in the future. Thanks again to the race director for making this possible. I’m excited to return to C-Stat for my 2nd marathon in December.

Today’s question – what was your hottest race experience?

Cheers to “fall” races in Texas (and the beers that follow)!

 

A Runner’s Snack: UCAN Snack Bars Review (& Discount)

Disclosure: I received samples of UCAN Snack Bars as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

In my attempts to eat healthier to fuel my body, I tend to reach for bars when I’m on the go, or don’t have enough time to grab a proper meal. These are especially good for days when I unexpectedly have to work late – a fairly regular, but unpredictable occurrence for me. Still, most snack bars are protein-heavy and low in carbs, AKA the opposite of what I need heading to run. UCAN Snack Bars are different, and I’m excited to share my experience with them.

UCAN Snack Bars

The UCAN Snack Bars are unique due to a proprietary SuperStarch that the company has developed, which is carbohydrate-dense. These bars still contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats – all of those things you need to keep from being super hungry – but the unique carb content makes them a highly suitable pre-run snack.

What I loved most about UCAN Bars was that they were tasty, while still being low in sugar and gluten-free. I don’t have celiac or a gluten intolerance, but I still think it’s important that nutritional supplements cater to the dietary needs of many people. In terms of flavor, they even passed the highly-scientific Chris Flores taste test. They must be good if my non-runner husband likes them.

UCAN Snack Bars also come in a variety of flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, ChocolateCinnamon Swirl, Coffee Bean and Peach Passion. I tried out everything but the Chocolate Peanut Butter, which wasn’t part of my sample package. My personal favorites were the Chocolate and Coffee. Everyone I’ve known that has tested these out seems to have a different flavor preference. Therefore, it’s a good idea to purchase the Multi Flavor Box first to decide what flavors you prefer.

How to Use:

Well, obviously, you eat them! I found that eating the UCAN Snack Bars before a run/as a snack on a carbloading day gave me a good amount of energy during the subsequent workout. The caveat here is with food products, what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for everyone. I know of some other Bib Rave Pros that also tried the bars on their actual runs – this isn’t the right application for me personally, but if you need to refuel during a run, or if you’re doing an all-day race like an ironman, and you can handle solid food, I would consider the UCAN Snack Bars.

The only aspect I wasn’t crazy about was the actual texture. It is to be expected that any time you are eating something starchy, it’s going to be a bit dry. That’s what I found with these bars. I don’t think that’s a huge difference from any other comparable snack bar; no snack bar is going to taste or feel exactly like its fresh food counterpart. It was not bothersome to me initially, but I did notice I needed to get a glass of water to wash everything down. However, I don’t really see a way to avoid this because of what makes them so great – having a lot of carbs! I just point it out to help manage your expectations in case you are a texture person.

To try the snack bars for yourself, visit store.generationucan.com. The Multi Flavor Box described above is 10 bars for $20, which is comparable to other bars on the market. AND with discount code BIBRAVE you can take 15% off UCAN’s website!

Which UCAN Snack Bar will you try first?

Cheers to eating healthier as we move into the holiday season.

Body Glide Review – Protect Your Skin this Summer

Disclosure: I received a sample of Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Let’s be real here: not only are most people slightly embarrassed by chafing, but it is also physically uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve never seen a community to talk so openly about chafing as the running community. Through the openness of other runners, I found out about Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm, and it’s one of the products I’ve been using almost as long as I’ve been running, especially because I live in a climate that is so warm year-round.

I first realized how much I needed an anti-chafing product when I was in the thick of training for my first marathon. I came home from a long run and jumped in the shower, and that’s when I realized that unbeknownst to me, I had succumbed to chafing (ow!). So that’s when I purchased my first tube of Body Glide.

balmybalm

So what is Body Glide exactly?

Well, it is an anti-chafing and anti-blister balm, and it’s really as simple as that. Rather than gels, Vasoline, or powders that can be messy and stain your clothes, it creates a dry, transparent barrier to protect your skin from the constant rubbing that can be so painful. Since using Body Glide, I believe I have been saved from not just many instances of chafing, but also blisters as well.

Body Glide is easy to apply – their unique formula goes on just like deodorant (picture that scene in Juno where Paulie Bleeker looks like he is putting deodorant on his legs).

I find it’s easiest to apply Body Glide before you put on your running clothes, hence the bathroom photos.

tubbytub

See? It’s all over my leg and you can’t see it.

Even though it’s easy to apply, the balm is also long-lasting. As it took almost 6 hours for me to finish my first marathon, it’s safe to say that I am by no means a fast runner. However, even though it took a long time for me to finish, Body Glide lasted the entire time and my skin was left unscathed.

In addition to how well it works, how it’s made is also an aspect that sets Body Glide apart from the rest of anti-chafe products. Body Glide is free of a lot of ingredients that can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

And it has a pretty clean label… see for yourself:

  • Made with plant-derived ingredients
  • Petroleum-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Allergen-free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Never tested on animals
  • Child-safe

Really, in addition to Body Glide being a great product, the thoughtfulness that has gone into how its made is something I value as well. I appreciate that they have thought of active people with diverse needs with their manufacturing processes. I also like that the formula is non-drying (my skin tends to dry out easily), while still remaining breathable.

Chaffeychafe

If there is anything I would change about Body Glide, it’s that I have a hard time making sure I have covered an area thoroughly. Of course, this a small price to pay for something that is so easy to apply, transparent and does not stain your clothes. To make sure I am covered, I try to be generous during application. I run over the area with the palm of my hand to ensure I did not miss a spot.

To purchase Body Glide for yourself, visit BodyGlide.com. Different sizes are available ranging from reasonable prices of $5.49 – $14.99. If you have sensitive skin/want to test it before purchasing a larger tube, I’d recommend buying one of the smaller sizes to make sure it works best for you.

To wrap this up, I’ll ask a silly question for today. What’s your funniest chafing story? Let me know in the comments. 😉

Cheers to being chafe-free!

A Belated Blogiversary (and a Special Announcement)

Welp, it’s July, you guys! And you know what? Time has flown by and I just realized I never posted about my blogiversary.

It is hard to believe it’s been two years since I started training for races, running distances longer than 2 miles, etc. and of course, blogging! Reflecting on the past couple of years, I feel incredibly blessed to have come so far in such a short period of time, both in my blogging and running. I ran my first half marathon, then went on to run my first full marathon. Mostly, I have learned so much about myself (go figure).Me after I picked up my first race packet for the Houston Half Marathon!

Oh, and here is my super excited pace when I smashed my goal at the Hot Chocolate 15K earlier this year.

Through running, I have learned the value of hard work, commitment and perseverance. Pre-running, I was never able to stay committed to an exercise routine; not only have I gotten better at that, but I am also leaps and bounds better at understanding problems, and setting reasonable goals in order to solve them. Just this weekend, my husband and I proudly made the last payment on my student loans… We are now debt free! Of course, it has taken a lot of personal commitment from both of us to stay diligent together; I believe running has challenged me to be a better wife during tougher times, which has made times and accomplishments like these even sweeter. I could go on, but I will save the novel of words I could easily write for another time, because I have other exciting news to share this evening!

One of the highlights of this past year was running my first race in my new hometown of Austin, the Austin Half Marathon.

In light of my two year blogiversary, I have been aching to set a date for another race. While I don’t race THAT often, I do find that setting races gives me a solid goal to work towards. AND I really wanted to see what a difference nearly two years would make in my marathon time. I am excited to say that I’ve had the opportunity to sign up for not one, but two races on my list through BibRave.

The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon on October 16, 2016

AND

The BCS Marathon on December 11, 2016!

I am both excited and nervous at the same time, because I want to train hard and continue to set better records for myself. But I am mostly excited, because Aggieland holds such a special place in my heart (and the post-race party for the Oktoberfest Half will have special steins with 10 craft beers to choose from, so what’s not to like).

Right after I became a marathoner in Irving… Looking forward to doing that again!

Both of these races will take place in Bryan/College Station, Texas, which I am also super pumped about (’cause I’m an Aggie, duh)! Seriously though, Chris and I have been trying to find an excuse to take a weekend to go back, reminisce on our college days, and take part in all of the wonderful (and fairly inexpensive) things that there are to do in C-Stat. I plan to post info on things to do in BCS in a separate post from my normal reviews, so you can get a better idea of not only why the race is great, but why you should make a trip to College Station to run it.

Oh and then there are discount codes. If you already were planning a fall or winter half or full marathon, and this seems like it might be for you, you can use the code RAVE2016 (for the Nutrabolt Half Marathon it expires on 9/16 and for BCS Marathon, it expires 11/11). That makes the BCS Marathon $85 if you register before August 31, which is totally reasonable if you have been wanting to give it a go. If you think you might want to run either of these with me, feel free to ask any questions, or check out the race websites: nutrabolthalf.com and bcsmarathon.com.

What races are you looking forward to this fall?

Cheers to personal growth through physical fitness!

Training Update: Back to the Daily Grind (and a Good Routine)

The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with going back to work after the Christmas break, fun stuff (Chris’ band had a show last week), and, of course, blogging! It’s been busy, but when I look back on busiest of times, I see that they are always the most productive.

So, let’s get started, shall we?:

Week of December 28 (Week 9):

4.0 mi. | 40 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 10K race

For the week after an indulgent holiday, my runs this week felt surprisingly great. I really enjoyed the tempo run, especially. I always do these on the treadmill, and I finally am learning to enjoy the treadmill. I feel like my pace has gotten much more consistent since regularly resorting to the treadmill. And tempo runs seem to go so fast! I skipped the 10K, thinking I would make it up the next week, but it got away from me with a busy first week back at work. Still, 7/8 runs is an improvement from my last update! 

Total mileage: 11 mi.

 

Week of January 4 (Week 10):

4.5 mi. | 8 x 400 m. | 4.0 3.0 mi. pace | 9.0 mi.

Again, all of my runs felt fantastic this past week (I have to hand it to the weather, which has also been on point). I messed up my schedule and accidentally ran 3 miles one day instead of 4, but that’s no big deal.

To top it off, I ran my easy 9 miler in under 11 minute mile splits. GREAT FEELING, you guys. I have never run 11 minute miles longer than a 5 mile run, or at least not that I can remember. If I can keep that pace for the Hot Chocolate 15K, let alone the half marathon, I will feel AWESOME about that. I would be clocking in under 2 hours and 24 minutes!
Total mileage:  20.5 mi.

 
After celebrating Christmas with my parents (check out my 60 lb. lap dog with my dad… she is one spoiled grand-dog), we spent a quiet week at home, other than a couple of work days. New Year Eve was spent with Cards Against Humanity and a friend of ours, and then we binge-watched Making a Murderer to begin 2016. 

 
We also returned to 24 Diner for a New Year’s Day date. They are home to the best waffles ever. AND we saw “Joy.” I have to say it’s one of my new favorite movies. That story made me want to get up off my butt and make things happen.

In other news, work has been crazy busy since I got back from the break, but it’s always busy at the beginning of the year, with trade show season in full swing, and trying to get everything organized for a successful year. I’m getting back in a good routine, and finding a good balance with all the things in my life, though. I am really excited for 2016!

That said, I’m looking forward to this year with all of you. It’s going to be a good one.

Cheers to the New Year, y’all!

Training Update: Ho, Ho, Hustling!

Howdy Folks! Since I’m training for two races right now (those of you who follow me on social media saw that I’m racing the Hot Chocolate 15K in Dallas on Feb. 6), I thought it would be effective just to do a week by week (ish) update on my workouts. I am hoping to run more frequent races in 2016 and I think it will be easier to keep an ongoing log of my workouts on the blog, rather than a log for each specific race.

If you’ll recall my training schedule for earlier this summer, that’s what I’m working my way through right now. I plan to switch the 15k race in Week 12 for the 12 miler in Week 14, since that week is the week of the Hot Chocolate 15K (and a week before the Austin Half). By the way, if you register for the Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K with the code BibRaveDAL, you’ll receive a complimentary head warmer! There is actual chocolate on the course, so it’s my kind of race.

File_001
This past week was none other than Christmas, so I actually only ran one of my scheduled runs due to a hectic travel schedule and poor weather when I wasn’t traveling. That’s why this recaps the past two weeks of my training. I was 4 for 8 on making my training runs, and I really was trying to get them all in. Why are the holidays so dang busy?!

So, here’s the recap:

Week of December 14 (Week 7 on the old calendar):

3.5 mi. | 35 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 7.0 mi.

All workouts got done except my tempo run… Felt like a good week, and I ran my 7 miler in under an hour and 20 minutes, which I felt good about since I started very slow. Part of my motivation was getting all my gift wrapping finished (who else has been there?). I even ran a 9’41” mile – I think that is one of my fastest to date!

Total mileage: 13.5 mi.

Week of December 21 (Week 8):

4.0 mi. | 7 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. pace | 8.0 mi.

Well, at least I finished the 8 miler (slowly, but surely). I got it out of the way first, knowing that I would be traveling a lot, but I was kinda disappointed in how it went due to some knee soreness I was having. For some reason, whenever I switch back from leggings to shorts, I have issues. The leggings I have aren’t compression grade, but I do think that running tights make me alter my gait in some form or fashion and offer slight stabilization for my knees. Other than that, quite frankly, I think this blog is already doing its job! After the knee issues, I was planning to take an extra rest day, but not 3. It adds up and I feel pretty convicted.

Total mileage: 8.0 mi.

Where were we traveling, you ask? Well, we visited San Antonio for Christmas with my Grandparents, and we also went to my parents’ house near Houston on Christmas Day. We even got to walk down the Riverwalk and see some of the sights around town, including the Menger Hotel, where we took this picture in front of their tree.

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All in all, the holidays were fantastic, but the ho-ho-ho’s and hustle and bustle have left me like this:

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Christmas is my favorite holiday, but this year was just crazy! I’m looking forward to having a few more travel-free days to rest up for the new year. It’s going to be a great one!

How do you stay on track during the holidays, and how did you celebrate this year?

Cheers!

Another 13.1 in the Books

Yesterday I got out on the trail and put 13.1 miles away.

A year ago yesterday I ran my first half marathon, and yesterday, I ran my second. No crowds, medals, cameras, starting lines, or finish lines. Just me, my music and nature.With the Houston Half Marathon cancelled, I still wanted to test myself. No reason to wait for the next opportunity since I’m off of work.

It was unofficial, but I believe that the act of getting out there was what counted. I didn’t meet my time goal, which was slightly disappointing, but I did get out there when I didn’t have to, and I did finish.

With the storms that had come through, several parts of the route were actually flooded and I got some interesting photos. The weather was wonderfully cool and crisp, just cloudy enough to stay cool with the sun out. It was a great reminder of one of the things I love most about running – the opportunity to be out in nature.

Once again I felt free, and have a renewed joy for running. I love that running can be so difficult at times but it is so satisfying in the end.Oh, and I can now wear my race shirt feeling like I at least earned it.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did you handle it?

Cheers to more chances to run and race!

Meet Daisy, My Future Running Buddy!

Say “hello” to my big little furry friend! Chris and I recently adopted a dog, who we named Daisy Flores! If you have known me in real life for any length of time, you probably know how much I love dogs and how much I’ve wanted a pup of my own for basically forever, so this is a big freaking deal.


Long story short, Chris and I talked for a long time one random Thursday (about 2 weeks after the marathon) and finally decided we could get a dog. We searched for a week or so, which was both stressful, exciting and emotional, and found Daisy at the local Humane Society. She is perfect for our family in every way. She’ll be treated for heartworms over the course of the next 3 months and we are praying everything goes well/she is cured after treatment, so she can finally be my running buddy.

Daisy on her freedom ride:

A few fun facts about Daisy:
– She is an Aussie mix (we think).
– She has a lot of hair!
– She loves to snuggle with both furniture and humans and would let me rub her belly for hours if she could.
– She likes to give hugs – she’s not a jumper except when I come home from work, when she basically lightly jumps up on me and stays there as if giving me a hug.
– She is already crate and potty trained (thank God).
– She loves to chase squirrels.
– She doesn’t whine or bark; she just grunts, kind of like a pig, only cuter.
– She HATES baths and wet surfaces.
– She is the cutest dog ever to us because she is ours.

“What are you looking at?” Daisy after getting fixed.

My 55 lb. child dog being her snuggly self:

Searching for and adjusting to having a dog has been killer on my exercise and blog regimen, but I am finally getting back on track this week, now that we are in a new routine. Since the marathon, I’ve only run 4.5 miles total and worked out 3 times. I actually ran 2 of those miles last night (and boy, were they tough). These pictures basically sum up my life.

Pre-Daisy Rug:

 

Post-Daisy Rug (after vacuuming two days prior!):

I’m excited that we’ve adjusted to the new normal and am looking forward to sharing the other running/active-related posts I’ve been working on soon.

Cheers to puppies and the fun that comes with them!